cnotes Posts:31831 Followers:37
11/11/2011 06:31 PM

Preview: Senators (4-8) at Sabres (7-5)

Date: November 11, 2011 7:30 PM EDT

The Buffalo Sabres know they need to play better defensively even though they've produced good results lately.

The Ottawa Senators are heading in the opposite direction without captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Buffalo goes for a season-high fourth straight victory and sixth in a row in this Northeast Division matchup Friday night when the visiting Senators try to end a season-worst four-game skid.

Although the Sabres (9-5-0) pushed their winning streak to three with Tuesday's 6-5 overtime victory over Winnipeg, coach Lindy Ruff has major concerns about the play of his blueliners.

Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera each were a season-worst minus-3 against the Jets.

"They didn't play well," Ruff said following Wednesday's practice. "They made some bad decisions, and it's been a little bit of our problem where we haven't had six guys play well back there. ... We made some ill-advised reads, we made a couple of tough plays into traffic and we got to clean those plays up."

While veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr said the important thing was that the Sabres found a way to win, there's no question the club needs better play from 2010 Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller.

Back in net Tuesday after a two-game benching behind backup Jhonas Enroth, Miller survived a three-goal first period and finished with 26 saves to avoid losing five consecutive games in regulation for the first time.

"It's not the easiest situation right now for me," Miller said. "... I want to help. And I want to get victories."

It's uncertain if Ruff will go with Miller or Enroth, who improved to 4-0-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average after making 25 saves in Saturday's 3-2 shootout victory in Ottawa.

The Sabres have won seven of eight in this series since dropping nine in a row to the Senators.

Ottawa (7-8-1), which has won its last two trips to Buffalo, opens a six-game trip with the first of three visits there this season.

It's uncertain if Alfredsson will be available after missing the last five games with a concussion. The Senators are 1-3-1 without him - and winless since a 6-0-0 run - following Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

"It's just day by day and talking to the coaches and seeing what they think," Alfredsson said after skating with the team prior to Wednesday's defeat. "This is a little different than any other injury I've had, so I want to make sure I feel good. ... I'll take it one day at a time and go from there."

Ottawa, which last lost five straight during an 0-9-2 skid Jan. 14-Feb. 9, has killed 11 of 12 penalties in the last four games but has gone 0 for 11 on the power play.

Craig Anderson has allowed 12 goals while starting each of these contests. He stopped 31 shots Saturday but was beaten on three of Buffalo's six shootout attempts, including the winner by Derek Roy.

Roy had two of the Sabres' season-best four power-play goals Tuesday and assisted on another.

Jason Spezza leads the Senators with 16 points but has only one over his last five games. He did not make the scoresheet Saturday, though the center has 13 goals and 13 assists during a 12-game point streak in Buffalo.

He scored twice with two assists the last time the Senators were in western New York, a 6-4 loss March 13.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:31831 Followers:37
11/11/2011 06:32 PM

Preview: Oilers (8-4) at Red Wings (6-5)

Date: November 11, 2011 7:30 PM EDT

The Detroit Red Wings have broken out of a scoring slump with back-to-back huge efforts. Now they'll try to keep that going against the NHL's hottest goaltender.

The Red Wings will try to extend their five-game winning streak over the Edmonton Oilers, who will start Nikolai Khabibulin in goal Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit (7-5-1) totaled six goals during a six-game slide Oct. 22-Nov. 3 before scoring five in consecutive victories. Johan Franzen was held without a point during that slide before amassing four goals and two assists the last two contests.

"He's a huge, gifted man," coach Mike Babcock said.

Franzen will look to beat Khabibulin, who will be back in goal after backup Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves in Thursday's 6-3 loss at Boston.

Coach Tom Renney indicated that he gave Dubnyk that start because it was not against a Western Conference team, with the plan to start Khabibulin on Friday and probably Sunday at Chicago.

"This is a part of the schedule that we looked in September and suggested to ourselves that we would make sure that we would have to split," Renney said. "But it also gives us a chance to come back with Khabi tomorrow night, and should we hope to, the same thing against Chicago."

Khabibulin is 7-0-2 with a league-best 0.98 goals-against average. He's won six straight starts for the first time since an eight-game run Feb. 23-March 6, 2004, with Tampa Bay.

That streak ended with a 1-1 tie at Joe Louis Arena, where Khabibulin is 8-17-0 with two ties in 27 career starts including seven in the postseason. He's lost five straight in Detroit with a 4.14 GAA.

The Oilers (9-4-2) fell to 2-2-0 on this six-game trip by conceding a season high in goals Thursday. Ryan Smyth was a lone bright spot with two goals, and he now has 11 points during a six-game run.

"There were times when we kind of got together and played the way we had been playing this whole season," left wing Taylor Hall said. "And then, a turnover here, an overskate of the puck there kind of turned it around for them."

Renney blamed a poor start in which his team was outshot 10-3 as well as his club's numerous turnovers.

"We didn't want to stay with it," Renney said. "That's an immature look, that's an immature team and it's not just that we got young players doing that. We have veteran players turning pucks over."

Franzen has recorded all of his eight goals and 13 points in Detroit's seven wins. He had a hat trick in Tuesday's 5-2 win over Colorado after assisting on the Red Wings' first two goals in last Saturday's 5-0 win over Anaheim.

"We've been more relaxed since scoring the first two goals against Anaheim," Franzen said. "It seemed like the whole team got a load off our shoulders and we started to play better. We have the skill, but we had a lack of confidence."

Red Wings top goaltender Jimmy Howard is not far behind Khabibulin with a 1.79 GAA. Howard has a 1.97 GAA in winning his last four starts against Edmonton.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:31831 Followers:37
11/11/2011 06:34 PM

Preview: Canucks (7-7) at Ducks (4-7)

Date: November 11, 2011 10:30 PM EDT

The Anaheim Ducks are on the brink of their longest losing streak since the team was still deemed "mighty" and Randy Carlyle was a first-year coach.

Carlyle is hoping a team meeting and a positive attitude can help the Ducks snap their six-game slide when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

Anaheim (5-7-3) is 1-6-3 in its last 10 games and at the bottom of the Pacific Division after losing six in a row, including a 4-2 defeat to Nashville on Wednesday.

"It's hard. We're letting each other down," said center Ryan Getzlaf, who has one point during the slide. "The little mistakes we're making are costing us. The last few games we were gripping the sticks pretty tight and trying to do a few more things than we need to. I thought we did a better job of staying within our system (Wednesday), but we had a few mental breakdowns, and it cost us."

Anaheim hasn't endured a longer skid since dropping eight in a row Nov. 3-20, 2005, when the team was known as the Mighty Ducks in Carlyle's first season behind the bench.

In an effort to end the current slide, during which the Ducks have been outscored 22-8 and gotten shut out twice, Carlyle held a team meeting Thursday.

"The one thing we try to do is not focus on the result now. The result is of most importance, but it's the process," he said. "If we continually focus on the result then there's a negative, so we're trying to be as positive as we possibly can and say to look at the things that are effecting the outcome; that's the process.

"Things you have to do and things we're not doing well enough to give ourselves the best chance for success."

One area of concern is in net, as Jonas Hiller is 1-5-3 with a 3.54 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in his last nine games. Backup Dan Ellis lost his only start during the losing streak Oct. 30, making 18 saves in a 3-1 loss at league-worst Columbus.

Carlyle may opt to turn to Hiller again since he's posted a 2.22 GAA while winning all four of his home starts against the Canucks (8-7-1).

Veteran Ducks winger Teemu Selanne doesn't have a point in his last three games. He hasn't endured a longer drought since going five games without a point March 6-17, 2010.

Selanne has nine goals and seven assists in his last 10 meetings with Vancouver, including five points last season as the team's split four matchups.

The Canucks are trying to conclude a six-game road trip with a third consecutive victory and prove they've shaken off their supposed Stanley Cup finals hangover. They improved to 3-2-0 on their jaunt after beating Los Angeles 3-2 on Thursday, and the team appears to be bonding away from home.

"Sometimes you need a little quality time together at the start of the year," said Roberto Luongo, who made 28 saves against the Kings. "We're a good team, we know that. It's just a matter of getting it together, executing on the ice and working hard. We didn't win the Presidents' Trophy last year for nothing."

The power play has helped key Vancouver's resurgence. The Canucks are 7 for 12 with the man advantage over their last two games, and 12 for 31 while winning four of six.

Daniel Sedin has five points in the last two games - three coming on the power play - to increase his season total to a team-high 20. The left wing has eight goals and 10 assists in his last 10 games against Anaheim.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: